Starting pitcher Rachel Babooram had to rush to the hospital before the game because her uncle cut his finger and was a little off her game when she returned. Instead of causing a rift, the experience brought the team closer and coach Robert Kushnick is fortunate to have the core of last year's team back to make another run in the playoffs. Babooram, a senior and the leader in strikeouts and wins in the 'B' league last season returns, along with junior shortstop Amy Ayala. Kushnick is starting two freshmen, Cynthia Zogbia at catcher and Jazcelyn Pagan at third base to help the cushion the blow of losing the team's best all-around player last year, centerfielder Natasha Simon ."Last year we didn't think anyone was going to beat us," said Kushnick, in his fifth year. "We had some stuff going on before the game with Rachel going to the hospital, but that's still no excuse. Hopefully, we'll learn from what happened." After his team won the Queens I-B regular season crown last year with a 15-0 record (before falling to eventual city champs Newtown in the semifinals), Beach Channel coach Robert Attonito expects nothing less than making the PSAL finals in 2005."Honestly, the first thing I said to them is if we don't make it into the finals (this year) we have had a bad season," Attonito said.With the return of sophomore standout Samantha Lebron, who Attonito calls "the best hitter on the team," and steady senior starting pitcher Jodi Vitale, the Dolphins should find themselves at the top of the division once again.John Bowne coach Bruce Bitterman likes the situation his team is in right about now. He returns a number of players still fresh from last year's Cinderella-type team - a squad that went 9-6 in league play and then reached the PSAL 'B' championship as the No. 29 seed - and has a great crop of newcomers as well."I can't remember a year when I've had this many kids come out," said Bitterman, who is in his 34th season of coaching despite having retired from his teaching job at I.S. 238 in the fall.He's also hoping the graduation of last year's star, shortstop Marissa Singh, won't weigh that heavily on the team. That's because Singh is back as an (unofficial) assistant coach."She was their leader for four years. They feel better knowing she's around," Bitterman said of Singh, who last year led the PSAL 'B' league in three categories Ð batting average (.828), RBIs (81), and doubles (17).The Wildcats also return junior Margaret Courter, a righthanded pitcher who was 4-2 last season with a 3.18 ERA. Sophomore second baseman Angelique Campana, last season's leadoff hitter with a .500 batting average, and sophomore third baseman Giselle Entrades, whom the team has nicknamed "G-Rod," are two of the squad's most versatile players.The team, which has no seniors and only two juniors, will start a number of young players. Among the standouts are freshmen Kelly Stanton and Cassandra Davis and sophomore Chloe Rodriguez. Davis is learning how to catch, and Stanton and Rodriguez play a number of positions and are learning how to pitch."They're all still learning the game right now," Bitterman said. "The potential is there. I won't rule this year out."Franklin K. Lane will go only as far as senior pitcher Tasha Brignoni will take them, and coach Ken Hafford hopes that place is deeper into the playoffs than last year's team did.Brignoni, who leads a team that went 10-4 last year and loss to John Bowne in the third round of the playoffs, is "definitely the team leader on the mound," according to Hafford.Senior third baseman Soely Sanchez, a great contact hitter, and sophomore first baseman Athena Pino are the keys to the Knights offensive attack. "(Pino) has unbelievable power for a girl that young and that new to the game," Hafford said.This year's August Martin squad returns few starters from the team that last year finished 11-4 in Queens I-B.Sophomore second baseman Candace McFarlane, who hit .646 with 20 runs scored, and senior first baseman Roxanne Clark, who batted .623 with 24 runs scored, highlight a young lineup that is dominated by freshmen and first-year seniors. Seniors Sara Blair and Kenesha Kellier and sophomore Erika Torres return with some experience in the outfield.- Mitch Abramson contributed to this story
©2005 Community News Group
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